I am writing this letter to wish you well as you prepare to move to your university. Congratulations and good luck with this next step in your education journey, you totally earned it! I know this letter is long and I appreciate that some of the wording will take time for you to fully digest, but please take the quiet time needed to really think about what I am talking to you about; what is contained in this letter is designed to save you time and help you (and others), nothing more!
Firstly, I would like to remind you all about the letter you wrote to yourself this time last year as you prepared for your final year of school and the challenge of completing your diploma. As you may remember, there was a lot of anxiety about the amount of work to get through and many comments about whether you would be accepted by (any) university! Now, remember how successful you are and think of all the good habits you developed to complete your Diploma and prepare you for heading to the university of your choice.
Before I give you some practical advice to help you settle into your new life at university, I want you to think about the steps you took to complete your diploma and jot them down/draw them on a piece of paper. Picture the good study habits you honed (especially recognizing and giving examples of the times when you needed to take more responsibility yourself and when you asked, or should have asked for help). The research and revision skills you became more disciplined with despite the (sometimes) seemingly overwhelming amount of work that needed to be handed in on time!
When we met as a year 12 group each week, we reminded each other that the journey can sometimes feel that you are “Alone”; especially when sitting an exam, staying up to complete a task before an important deadline and recognizing the strength of character it takes to complete things on your own. We also remembered that we were together as a year group and a school community; you always had someone to share your thoughts with and to support you (especially each other) before feeling completely overwhelmed. For many of you this was about keeping perspective and recognizing that usually there were just one or two things that had grown so big in your mind that everything else seemed too difficult. We used many visualization techniques to help us understand what was happening (remember the “What’s rippling your pond” technique?).
You cannot help but notice that I have included a picture that I know you will all never forget (try those power poses out! Check out Amy Cuddy on TED talks if you like!). I am writing to you because I know you will remember the journey you had here and how we tried to help prepare you for whatever may come. Some of you may well be missing the secure and supportive environment you were part of here (and I want to remind you that this is a normal feeling as we talked about change and transitions many times). Remember that YOU developed the skills and will continue to grow as a person at university, we just pointed you in the right direction sometimes! Here is my item for this week’s “the week ahead” and remember “Once a Cobra, always a Cobra”.
Welcome back to all our students. It is such an exciting time of the year as everyone catches up about their summer and settles into the rhythm of getting totally immersed in school and study. The week ahead will really be focusing on getting back into good habits and routines for school.
It is always strange to come back after summer and expect to see some familiar faces, only to realise that they have graduated and moved on. Our alumni are now preparing themselves for life at many of the world’s top universities; some close to home (Hong Kong) and some a long way away (USA, Canada and Holland). We wish them all happiness, success and to remember that “Once a Cobra, Always a Cobra!”
The main thing we make sure of at our school is doing all we can to prepare our students to be successful in their life (whether they choose to continue their studies close to home or anywhere in the world!).
Now, take a rest at this point and write yourself a letter (just like you did at the beginning of year 12). It may be helpful for you to start by writing about the reasons why you chose the university and course you are going to. Be clear about what you are excited about and what you are worried about. What do you want to achieve in the short, medium and long term (up to the first year only at this point would be enough)? When you have complete this task, you may read on!
So, how are you going to make this happen? The rest of the letter gives proven tips and advice to help you achieve these goals .So, here we are, a list of tips, advice and thoughts about how to get started, settled and successful in your first year at university!
• Do the basics well! Take responsibility for yourself and get into the good habits and routines that served you so well through the diploma as soon as you can. It is totally normal and ok to accept that you will be outside of your comfort zone at times, but you have proved to yourself on many occasions that you are independent and interdependent. You can look after yourself first and foremost as well as being able to work with and help others. Make a checklist of simple things that you will need to do each day. Do you know where to buy food? Where to go if you need medical help? How to set up your bank account? Where to go to do your washing? Etc… When you find out about each one, celebrate your successes, however small they may seem!
•Plan your work and work your plan! Find out about the first few weeks of university life. Universities work hard to make sure you have lots of opportunities to settle; there will be many activities and workshops for freshmen (new students) and specifically for international students. Put all the information into your calendar, take a deep breath and go to everything on the schedule that you are able to. By doing so, you will paint a really clear picture of everything the university can provide and expects from you. At the same time as attending these events and workshops, you will be familiarizing yourself with your surroundings and meeting lots of people. Remember, all first year students will be feeling many of the same feelings as you are; you are together!
• Go to the international student office. By taking this simple step, you will easily be able to familiarize yourself with the numerous support services offered. Find out the name of the staff there and introduce yourself; they understand how you are feeling and will be a great source of help for you.
• Talk to people! One of the things we talked about a lot last year was being prepared to use the English you have worked so hard to improve. It is so tempting to go straight to the first person who speaks your own language, and before you know it there will probably be a group of you happily discussing everything you need to talk about in your own language. As much as this will give you comfort (and is certainly helpful), remember to meet students from different backgrounds and cultures; this is one of the major things you wanted from studying in an international environment. You are already brilliant communicators, risk takers (healthy!) and courageous. Be roommates with a native English speaker, get a job on campus to help you use your English and meet more people!
• Get involved! One of the most impressive things I have seen you all do is commit yourself to action and service. There will be so many more opportunities for you to get involved in activities, clubs and teams. Sign up as soon as you can.
• Find Balance. You all found the healthy balance (after some searching plus trial and error!) between study, exercise and relaxation. Getting into the routine of going to lectures, making the most of the library spaces, group sessions, tutor support and making friends will take time and energy. Remember the marathon v sprint training we talked about. Be patient but committed to making small improvements each day; remember to focus on the process of improvement and your outcomes get better.
• Ask for help when you need itWe know that asking for help is a sign of strength, not weakness! There is no way you will know where everything is and how to do everything as soon as you arrive. Accept that everyone starting is going to need help and that no question will sound too silly to any member of staff; they understand how you will be feeling and want to help. Make sure you know where the international student support office is, meet and talk to your teachers/lecturers and advisors. They will be excited to meet you and want to know that you are settling in. We have discussed human nature a lot and know that feeling safe and secure is the most important thing. It may take a bit of time, but whenever you feel yourself pausing and asking yourself a question that you can’t answer, go and find someone who can help you, that is their job!
And finally! Be kind to yourself and stay in touch! If you are taking the steps above (it is far from an exhaustive list, but I think you may have enough to get you started!), you will see progress (however small it may feel) each day.
The alumni connection is a network you have helped to create and knowing you are able to call on your friends and peers who are now experiencing the same feelings as you are will be of great benefit to you all (you are not alone!).
I have already met the year twelve group and many of the hopes and fears you all expressed last year have been talked about by this year’s group! Please, please, take the time to join the Facebook and Linked in groups and stay in touch with us (you can scan the QR codes below). What you have learned already will be a huge help to the graduates to be this year and will also make you realise how much you have grown as learners and people.
With respect and best wishes
Could you please also e-mail me with your:
There will be a major alumni event at UISG on 22ndSeptember and as part of this, we are looking to showcase some alumni. If you are able to make a very short video of yourself telling us:
When you attended UISZ?
Where and what you are studying/have studied. What job you do now.
The best lesson you learned at UISZ?
The best piece of advice you can give to students currently studying the IB.
My e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
Class of 2016
Studying Law at Bristol University, UK
I believe the most important skill I learned at Utahloy was the ability to create meaningful relationships with others. Coming from a small graduating class, everyone got to know each other very well both in and outside of school. I was also privileged to have met many of my teachers who I now call friends.
This was especially relatable to my field, where everything seems to evolve around networking, and maintaining client relationships. Even at university, my fellow law students felt like a big family, and we all help each other out in the face of adversity. Being able to be sociable, and friendly really goes a long way in life.
Typically, I wake up an hour before any scheduled lectures or seminars to freshen up and have breakfast. I spend around 30 minutes in the morning reading case studies from Finimize and The Financial Times.
Throughout the day between lectures and seminars, I would prepare for my seminars at the library. Contrary to secondary school, university students are expected to have prepared thoroughly for their seminars beforehand, so most of my time is not spent on ‘homework’ perse, but on class preparation. The majority of my work is independent study, which I got used to swiftly, having been IB-educated at Utahloy.
In the evening, I would catch up with friends over coffee or dinner before heading back to the library. Depending on the day, I would continue studying until 9PM or attend law firm networking events, which are quite common, if applicable.
They say that if you’re the biggest fish the tank, then you’re in the wrong tank. I find this statement true to a certain extent, and somewhat applicable to small schools like Utahloy. I believe students should constantly be learning, not just in school but in other areas around their studies to develop their intellectual capacity.
Coming to university was quite a change for me. I was for the first time, surrounded by people who are more talented, and intelligent than I am. Suddenly, I dropped from being top of the class to the bottom of my cohort. I think the key to surviving in an environment like this would be to stay humble, and constantly learn from the others around you. Students should surround themselves with successful, and like-minded individuals to take full advantage of their further education.
In 5 years time, I’d like to see myself qualified as a Solicitor of English & Wales, working in a law firm in London. Albeit slightly ambitious, I believe it is important for students to set long-term goals that they aspire to, and work towards achieving it.
To get there, I’d first need to obtain decent grades at university. Contrary to popular belief, gaining entry into a Russell Group university does not guarantee students automatic employment at FTSE100 companies. Graduate recruitment is extremely competitive, especially for careers in professional services.
In order for me to qualify, I would first need to obtain a Training Contract with a law firm, and then spend another year studying for a Master of Laws (in Legal Practice) before training at a firm for 2 years, and subsequently qualifying.
Mr. Chung Kuo Hao is a valued member of the educational and local community in the UISZ family, as well as the greater Guangzhou area. He is a very successful businessperson and investor who has taken steps to improve the lives of those in the community and his family. He has spent time in the electronics industry, providing head phones and earpieces to major cellphone manufacturers. He has also invested in many companies and local ventures. Each of these experiences has improved the community.
In addition, he has spent a considerable amount of time in the International World. He lived in countries such as Chinese Taipei, China, Argentina, Australia, and Singapore. This gives him a unique perspective when sharing his message of hopeful improvement with the community.
Each of our students can benefit from a role model such as Mr. Chung, and we are incredibly honored and excited that he is willing to share his experiences and inspirational messages with the Class of 2018.
Chung Kuo Hao 씨는
UISZC의 가족일 뿐만 아니라 광저우 지역의 교육 및 지역 사회의 소중한 한 구성원 입니다. 그는 지역 사회와 가족의 삶을 개선하기 위해 노력해 온 매우 성공적인 사업가이자 투자자 입니다. 그는 대형 휴대전화 제조업체에 헤드폰과 이어폰을 제공하는 전자업계에서 오랜 시간 일해 왔습니다. 그는 또한 많은 기업과 지역 벤처기업에 투자했습니다.
이러한 경험들은 모두 지역 사회를 발전시키는 효과가 있었습니다.
또한 그는 국제사회에서 오랜 시간을 보냈습니다. 그는 대만, 중국, 아르헨티나, 호주, 싱가포르와 같은 국가에서 거주하였습니다.
이러한 그의 경험은 희망적인 발전소식을 커뮤니티와 공유할때 그에게 독특한 시각을 제시합니다. 저희 학생들은 이 기회를 통해 Chung 씨와 같은롤 모델이 될 수 있는 분을 만날 수 있게 될 것이며, 저희 2018 년 학년도 졸업생들에게 이분의 경험과 영감을 줄 수 있는 메시지를 들려줄 수 있게되어 대단히 영광스럽고 기쁩니다.
I feel very honoured to be contributing an article for our first alumni magazine and I have been thinking about what I should talk about for some time. I realised that I could look at writing this article from countless different perspectives. For example, I could choose to think “it is a privilege to be asked to write and I am excited by the prospect” (thankfully this is the angle I am looking from!), but it could easily be viewed from a more fearful angle (a view I have sometimes heard from students when they are facing more and more deadlines!) “I hope it is good enough…what if it isn’t right…this is the first essay, what if I get it all wrong?!” and other such unhelpful thoughts.
I originally thought about writing this article on the topic of mindset and I suppose it is the place I am starting from. Thankfully, the study and practice of the skills and self-talk needed to develop a “growth mindset” is more embedded in the curriculum and culture of schools than at other times in history. The simple act of noticing when we say things like “I can’t do xxx” and adding words like “yet” to the end of such statements, through to learning how to reframe a negative statement and make it positive are far more part of daily routines in school.
What I really want to address in this feature is the fascinating subject of social capital. As this edition represents the first alumni publication, I realised there would be no better time to explain the huge rewards in terms of return on investment the practice of social capital provides. In very simple terms, social capital is the value gained from social networks working effectively with utilitarian values (more detailed definitions and information can easily be found online and Margaret Heffernan’s TED talk on social capital is an excellent starting point). An effective and healthy alumni association is one where social capital is at its heart and its benefits are felt by all involved.
I had already thought about this topic after reading some of the questionnaire responses from our previous graduates. Comments such as “I want to spend my life doing something for others”and “I believe the most important skill I learned at Utahloy was the ability to create meaningful relationships with others” are evidence in themselves that social capital within our schools is something that already happens quite naturally. The fact that I had the genuine privilege of meeting recent UISZ and UISG graduates during our recent UK study tour just emphasized to me quite how important and beneficial this aspect of education really is.
Left to right: Crystal Ng (2017 graduate) now studying Accounting and Finance at Exeter University, Olivia Kim (2017 graduate) now studying Life Sciences at King’s College London and Ben Lin (2016 graduate) now studying Law at Bristol University.
As well as talking about their life at university and their plans for the future, what struck me most was how much all of the graduates I have met so far want to help our existing students. Our graduates clearly remember the challenges of completing an IB education; including their university application, final exams and the process of transitioning to other countries to study. The prospect of our alumni being able to share their experiences, provide networking opportunities and offering advice to current students is an exciting one. Even though our alumni association is in its infancy, the potential to maximize the return on social capital is enormous and I am really looking forward to being part of building this journey. I look forward to the next edition where we will be introducing some of the graduates to be of 2018.